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Reduce chances for confusion and ensure your weather-related communications are clear and concise to help families plan.

3 tips for confusion-free inclement weather communications

Reduce chances for confusion and ensure your weather-related communications are clear and concise

By Dr. Kara Stern, Head of Content, SchoolStatus March 16th, 2023

Even if the old spoon under the pillow trick hasn’t worked for the students in your district yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t be your turn next!

No matter how well prepared you are, weather cancellations can be cause for confusion. It’s worth taking a few extra precautions so your families know exactly what the story is.

Here are a few simple tips districts can follow to make sure weather communication messages are reaching home without causing confusion:

Tip 1: Reach Families Where They Are

Most districts have a page on their website dedicated to weather closures and delays. Schools use their school-home communications platform to alert families via text message, email, and phone. They also send alerts to local radio and TV stations. Many post a banner on their website. Social media is helpful, too. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are often the first things folks look at in the morning.

A quick bulletin via a digital school newsletter platform is easy because you can at once share via MNS, on social media, and even embed on your website. If you send a bulletin, duplicate key info – like instructions for how to translate the update and  where to sign up for alerts – from event to event.

Repetition really helps folks to remember the procedures.

Tip 2: Use Clear and Specific Language

Any posting about a weather cancellation should include the day and date. You would think “today” and “tomorrow” are specific, but you’d be surprised at how many parents will look at the time something’s posted and say to themselves, “By today, does she actually mean today or tomorrow?” When teachers send out a snow day class update, it should have specific information and a date in the title.

No School Thursday, Feb. 24th doesn’t leave room for confusion like Snow Day Tomorrow!

Tip 3: Inform Families About What Type of Stay-at-Home Day it Will Be

Post-pandemic, districts have more choices: traditional snow day, synchronous remote learning, or asynchronous remote learning. If districts opt for remote learning, it counts as a school day – which also means districts are required to bus students to out-of-district placements. This is tricky if the weather’s causing dangerous road conditions. If students are spending the day learning, they’ll need a schedule complete with links to any online classes, assignments, and where to post homework. Teachers typically turn to translatable digital newsletters or class web pages to share weather-related remote learning info. And if it’s just a good old-fashioned weather closure day, consider sharing some helpful resources with the adults – they’ll appreciate it for sure!

No one wants to field angry phone calls (or emails), so reduce pressure on your inbox by following these easy tips for maximum inclement weather communications clarity. Oh, and remember to put a spoon under your pillow!

4 reasons we put all of our district communications on one platform

About the Author:

Dr. Kara Stern is Head of Content at SchoolStatus, a fully-integrated data analytics and communications platform designed to improve student outcomes through a unique combination of comprehensive data and direct school-home engagement. She came to SchoolStatus via Smore, a leading digital school newsletter platform. A former teacher, middle school principal, and head of school, she holds a Ph.D. in Teaching & Learning from NYU.

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